Published: 11 May 2022

REF 2021 case study: Automotive firms team up with Surrey to give electric vehicles innovation advantage

Automotive companies including McLaren, Elaphe and Tenneco have sought out research excellence in control engineering from the University of Surrey to give them a competitive advantage over rival electric vehicle manufacturers. 

Industry-leading firms have been working in partnership with Surrey’s Centre for Automotive Engineering to find ways to make electric vehicles safer, more fuel-efficient and more comfortable to drive than their liquid fuel predecessors. 

Research by Surrey Professors Aldo Sorniotti and Patrick Gruber and their team has developed a range of innovation solutions, including the development of a first-of-its-kind anti-jerk control concept, which combines wheel speed input and motor speed.  

Other technologies adopted by major automotive companies are helping to facilitate cost-effective design development and improved vehicle performance.   

As Elaphe Propulsion Technologies explained: “Surrey helped us to quickly develop prototype vehicles using our in-wheel powertrain set-up that can be showcased to our international partners and customers.”  

Global sales of electric and hybrid cars reached 3.2 million in 2020 – an increase of 43 per cent on the previous year. But the driveability and performance of these vehicles depends on a new generation of dedicated controllers.  

Surrey’s Centre for Automotive Engineering's research in this field is crucial to advancing the capabilities of the next generation of electric cars, an important green switch in helping the University – and the wider world – meet challenging carbon neutral targets. 

This is one of a series of pieces highlighting Surrey’s research excellence and the REF 2021 impact case studies, published ahead of the 2021 REF results.